Food & Water

Overview

The community decided in the Wingecarribee Shire Community Strategic Plan 2031+ to ensure that no development takes place in Wingecarribee that would threaten the underpinning natural resources of the area as a water catchment, food bowl, and tourist and recreational attraction.

The Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) is a planning process developed by the former NSW Department of Water and Energy (DWE), with defined steps to effectively integrate water supply, sewerage and storm-water to achieve sustainable management of these services. 

DWE developed the IWCM Guidelines in 2004 and a revised Scope of Work (draft) in August 2007 to provide guidance on the development of an IWCM Strategy. 

The Wingecarribee IWCM Strategy Plan has followed these guidelines.

Wingecarribee Water

Water Catchment Management

Wingecarribee Shire Council is the local water authority that provides potable water supply to residents in the Shire. 

Water NSW (formerly Sydney Catchment Authority) provides the majority of raw water to Council from the Wingecarribee Reservoir  with the remaining obtained from Council owned Bundanoon Reservoir.

Wingecarribee Shire is located within the Sydney drinking water catchment area and living in the region brings with it a responsibility to play your part in keeping the local environment and waterways healthy. 

To ensure water quality continues to be protected in the Sydney drinking water catchment, all proposed developments that require consent under Council’s Wingecarribee Local Environment Plan need to have a Link neutral or beneficial effect (NorBE) on water quality. 

Further information can be found on Council’s Development website page.

Recreational Water

Water NSW monitors rivers and storage's for algae, current Algae Alert Maps are provided on Water NSW website

Further information on identifying different types of algae can be found on councils webpage What's that in the Water.

Waterwatch Program

Wingecarribee Shire Council's Waterwatch program is monitoring the health of key urban waterways in Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale. Water NSW has monitoring programs in place at various water ways within the shire.

Domestic/Commercial Water Tips

Everyone can help to save water whether it is in your home, garden or business. 

Here are some useful tools to get you started:

Tips for Saving Water In Your Garden(PDF, 434KB)

Tips In Your Business For Water Savings(PDF, 351KB)

Wingecarribee Food Bowl

Our community is committed to producing a diverse range of quality food while protecting natural resources across the Southern Highlands.

Local food production includes farm gate sales, vegetables, fruit and berries, olives, grapes, nuts, cheese, meat (local suppliers to local butchers) and honey.

Food Producing Businesses

Local producers may find useful information on services that can assist their business in sustainable food production. 

The Rural Partner Program has more information and a copy of the Rural Living Handbook.

There are lots of resources to obtain Government assistance for land, water and farm management:

 
At Home

Residents can produce healthy seasonal food through gardening or by joining a local community garden. 

This can help to reduce grocery bills, avoid supermarket packaging and maintain a bio-diverse backyard. By growing your own food you can be confident about the source and quality of your food.

Rainwater Tanks

Water tanks are a primary source of household water in rural areas where a public water supply is not available. They can supply additional non-drinking water to households in urban areas reducing dependence on public and environmental water supplies, and reducing water costs.

When purchasing a tank there are several factors you need to consider including:

  • The intended use of the tank water
  • The holding capacity of the tank
  • The tank design
  • Placement of the tank on your property
  • The maintenance regime to ensure water quality, and the health of your family.

Information and references on Rainwater tank set-up and maintenance is provided below.

NSW Health Department Considerations

NSW Health suggests that public water supplies remain the most reliable source of good quality drinking water for the community. In urban areas, rainwater tanks should be utilised for non-drinking uses such as flushing toilets, washing clothes and outdoor purposes such as swimming pools, watering gardens and washing cars. This is because public water supplies in NSW are filtered, disinfected, fluoridated and regularly monitored for quality.

The main concerns of the NSW Health Department regarding water supplied via rainwater tanks relate to microbiological and chemical contamination. Maintenance of your tank and the tanks catchment area needs to be conducted to minimise the risk. 

Contamination Risks

The following things should be avoided in, or removed from, the rainwater catchment area to reduce the risk of water contamination:

  • Organic material & treated wood products
  • Vehicle exhausts or emissions 
  • Exposure of tank water to light
  • Lead based paints and lead flashing
  • Acrylic paints as they may contain dissolved detergents and chemicals
  • Bitumen-based materials
  • Mosquitoes / vermin

Installation Considerations

  • Use only high quality pipes and fittings made of drinking water grade materials, not storm water grade materials
  • Ensure your tank been flushed with clean water after the manufacturing process
  • Have precautions been taken to ensure your tank water will be exposed to minimal light? This may require you to seal the inlets and outlets of the tank
  • Your tank should be mosquito and vermin proof, with the inlets and outlets of your tank having secure covers and mesh strainers
  • Avoid catching water off your roof near discharge flues from wood fires, kitchen exhausts, air conditioners and hot water systems 
  • If pumping is required, ensure the pump size is matched to the primary tank in use. Incorrectly matched pumps can lead to unnecessary energy use.

Local Planning Regulations

Council requires a Land Use Application for the installation of rainwater tanks larger than 10,000L. There are no fees associated with this type of Land Use Application. You can access the Approvals Application Form & Guide through Councils website.

An application is required as Council needs to assess how the location of your tank will affect your neighbours, the location of the flow pipe and any potential erosion problems.

First Flush Devices

The installation of a first flush diverter prevents the first portion of roof run-off from entering the tank. This ensures any dust, leaves, and other contaminants that may have accumulated on your roof are not washed into the tank.

Gutter Management

Gutters should have sufficient and continuous fall to downpipes to prevent the pooling of water. Stagnant water encourages algal growth and provides a site for mosquito to breed. A fall of one in 100 should be sufficient.

Maintenance Regime

The following maintenance is required to ensure water quality is maintained in your rainwater tank:

Roof Catchments

Regular inspection of gutters to clear debris, remove over hanging vegetation, and regularly clean all tank screens.

Sludge Removal

Tanks should be examined every 2 to 3 years for the build up of sediment and plant material on the bottom of the tank. This sludge can be removed through siphoning the bottom of the tank or completely emptying the tank. Employing the services of a professional tank cleaner may be the best choice due to confined space issues, tank movement concerns and other safety issues associated with the process.

Disinfecting tank water is not generally necessary unless you expect that the water is contaminated or you have been advised by your doctor. Water filters can be installed at drinking points. For guidelines visit Australian Department of Health site on Rainwater Tanks.

Mosquitoes

Rainwater tanks can provide an excellent habitat for mosquito’s to breed in. In addition to causing nuisance, certain types of mosquito can be vectors for virus. This is more of an issue in the Sydney and Illawarra Regions with Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses reported to be transported by the mosquitos. The symptoms of these viruses are mainly rheumatic affecting the joints and presenting flu like symptoms.

Mosquito borne disease may become more common in Australia due to rising temperatures and humidity associated with climate change. The Australian Department of Health provides an additional guide to rain water tanks with information on mosquitos in sub-tropical areas of Australia.

By far the preferred approach for managing mosquitoes and other insects is to keep them out of tanks. In addition, rainwater should not be allowed to pool in containers or on surfaces below tank outlets or taps, as this can also provide a breeding site.

Unless in use, all access points excluding the inlet and any overflows should be kept shut and close fitting removable lids or screens fitted.

Tanks water should be inspected for the presence of mosquito larvae (wrigglers).

Further information on preventing mosquitos can be found in the Guidance Manual for the Design and Installation of Urban Roofwater Systems in Australia.

Guidance Manual For The Design and Installation of Urban Roofwater Harvesting Systems In Australia Edition 1(PDF, 1MB)